Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sourdough Pasta

As you may know I'm Italian, so I think I know a little something about pasta. 

Eating pasta, that is. 

Yes, the fact of the matter is that while I've eaten a lot of pasta and cooked a lot of pasta and even watched a lot of pasta being made, I myself have never taken a ride on the fresh pasta merry-go-round.

Until now.

April's Sourdough Surprises is pasta. Pasta was the subject of the very first Sourdough Surprises one year ago so it seemed fitting to revisit the subject and I'm so glad for that. I kinda knew that I would really love this one. Pasta, as I've mentioned, is in my blood. But I didn't know just how much fun I would have. Once I got started it seemed I couldn't stop.

First I made a hand rolled and hand cut batch that became Fettuccine with Pesto. Then I got out the pasta machine and did some egg noodles which became Chicken Noodle Soup. Then I jumped in the deep end and made Cheese Ravioli. And then I wondered why I'd never tried this before.

I arrived at a formula after visiting a couple of sites like this and this

sourdough pasta

1 & 1/2 cups semolina flour
pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup sourdough starter
olive oil for the bowl

Stir the salt into the flour. On a wooden board or other clean work surface, make a well with the flour. Add the yolks and starter in the center of the well and slowly work the flour into the mixture until a firm dough forms. Only use as much flour as you need.

Knead the dough until it is smooth. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover and let it rest for 20 minutes (this is key, you must let the dough rest).

To roll by hand:
If you have a large enough work surface and the arms of an Italian grandmother, you can roll the dough out all at once. But to make it easier I cut it in half. Roll the dough to the desired thickness depending on the kind of pasta you want. I rolled mine to about 1/6 the of an inch.

Once the dough is the desired thickness start folding it in from each end by the inch and then fold one end on top of the other. At this point you can hand cut the pasta into capellini or pappardelle or anything in between. I cut mine into fettuccine, cooked it for 2 minutes and tossed it with some pesto sauce. Mama mia!!

Using a pasta machine:
Again I would cut the dough in half. Roll the dough into a flat rectangle and start with the rollers on the largest setting. Pass the dough through a couple of times to get it conditioned. Keep lowering the roller setting, passing the dough through twice each time. As the dough gets thinner it gets longer and will fold in on itself as it comes out of the rollers. Make sure you keep the dough dusted with a little flour so it doesn't stick to itself.

By the time you get to the last roller the dough will be very long and thin. Cut it in half and set up the pasta cutter of your choice. My machine only has linguine and fettuccine. Run each length of dough through and you  can either cook it immediately, it will cook in a couple of minutes, or hang it to dry and save it for later. 

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  1. Your pasta looks beautiful, Robyn! I'm getting hungry! :)

  2. Oh gosh, I love all your pictures - so lovely and rustic. And that dough! I've never made pasta with semolina flour but now it's next on my list!

    1. Thanks Korena, this was my first time so I don't know how much difference the semolina made but it's worth a try. The dough was extremely easy to work with!

  3. You went to town - trying three variations! Could you post your cheese filling recipe? I've never done filled pasta but want to try. Yum!

    1. Thanks for the request Joan, I did mean to post the filling! It's so easy:
      2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
      2 eggs
      1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
      pinch of nutmeg
      2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
      salt and pepper to taste
      Just mix it all together. Makes enough for 24 ravioli
      As soon as I get a minute I'll edit this in!

  4. All of your pasta looks delicious! I think I need to pick up some semolina flour to try.

  5. Thanks Rebecca! It is recommended for pasta, and this was a dream to work with.

  6. Amazing job! All the variations of the pasta look so delicious!! And I am so excited that you used semolina flour, too! I can't find it here, so of course I have always wanted to use it.

  7. Wow~ Everything looks fantastic:) I'll bring the Wine...what time is Dinner:) Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines

  8. Such great photos, such great pasta. I've got a desperate craving for ravioli now! Beautiful job.

  9. I've actually never heard of sourdough pasta before, but now I'm beyond intrigued. I think it might be a good pairing with a duck fettuccine recipe I make:

    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Lori, it sounds amazing, give it a try!

  11. I'm definitely trying semolina flour next time - this really looks fantastic!

    1. Thanks! Don't know if it was the sourdough starter or the semolina but this dough was sooooo easy to work with!

  12. Stunning - really looking ofrward to trying this!

  13. Hello Robyn

    Found my way here via Sourdough Surprises, not only do I want to try your version of sourdough pasta, I am curious about what appears to be rye crackers, along side the bowl of chicken noodle soup. I have searched on your lovely blog but have not found any cracker recipe, but wonder having read you have a pastry chef background, can't help but wonder if you made these? If so, would you be willing to share a recipe on your blog? If they contain sourdough perhaps they could be your next contribution to the sourdough surprise challenge, as crackers are next up.........

    Greetings from Waiheke Island, New Zealand, I'm Robyn too.

    1. Hi Robyn, thanks so much for stopping by!! You've got a good eye, they are rye crackers. Funny story, it just so happens I did try to make sourdough rye crackers and lets just say the dog loved them! Epic fail! But now that I know you're interested I'll try again. The crackers in the picture are Ryvita crackers. Don't know if they're available in New Zealand, but they're really yummy, light, crispy and crunchy. That puts the bar pretty high to duplicate something like that but I'll do my best!
      Cheers from the USA, Robyn

  14. Hi again, Just reading the cracker challenge contributions on Sourdough Surprise and noted your rye cracker dismay and checked back here.

    We do indeed get Ryvita - they're the ones I'd like to duplicate. Jamie Oliver made some rye crackers in a programme made in Stockholm, along side a local baker. Take a look on YouTube, no quantities given, but you can eyeball them, more importantly seeing/hearing technique & method is helpful, I'm afraid I'll need to use a fork rather than the interesting roller:

    Seems they're called knäckebröd (k-ney-keh-br-uh-d) in Swedish. A quick google and a range of recipes can be found. I'm going to give them a try tomorrow using my sourdough, it's late here now.

    Night, Robyn

    1. Robyn, thank you so much for the link! Jamie Oliver + rye crackers = heaven!!

      Good luck with your crackers, please let me know how they turn out. Nighty night, Robyn

    2. Hello Robyn

      I made up some crackers along the lines of the ones in the JO clip. I didn't like the result. In particular I didn't like the honey note. Also while thin and crisp, they were easy to snap in my fingers, they were somehow toothy, they weren't the texture I wanted.

      As it is a Ryvita-like flavour I want, I took a look at the Ryvita website, the ingredient list so simple:

      INGREDIENTS: Wholegrain Rye Flour (97%), Rye Flour, Salt.

      The wikipedia listing for knäckebröd makes reference to aeration and extrusion.

      As the various knackebrod recipes I've looked at on the internet all seem to include yeast & /or sourdough, it's likely Ryvita are leavened too - use of sourdough would mean no need for any reference to yeast in the Ryvita ingredient list. I thought too sourdough would provide some 'aeration'. I stuck with the 50/50 blend of wholemeal rye and AP flour I'd used, also 50% total hydration, 1.5% salt, but upped the sourdough level to provide 20% of flour. (Actual experimental batch: 40g 60% sourdough, 40g AP flour, 65g ryemeal, 50g water, 2g salt)

      I mixed and left the dough for 16 hours at room temp. Rolled to the same thinness as previously, I sprinkled rye flour as I rolled because I like the floury outer layer on Ryvita. After cutting to approx 6cm square, covered tray with plastic and left them to 'proof' while the oven heated - didn't get appreciable rise. I decided to experiment with pricking, thinking that maybe puffed-up crackers would give a better texture. Just before putting them in the oven I pricked some three times with a fork, some once and some not at all. Did it randomly as I find in my oven the crackers on the outer bake more quickly and didn't want that to influence the outcome.

      Was much happier with flavour profile. The unpricked ones which puffed pita-like tasted best, it seemed that their thinness really contributed to flavour, however as they shattered, they were a bit messy. The ones which had been pricked once also pillowed but not as dramatically, they tasted better than the ones which had been pricked three times which had stayed flat.

      Overall despite the crumbs I preferred the fully puffed ones. It seems odd that they should taste most like my memory of Ryvita, considering how much thicker Ryvita actually are. I plan on buying some Ryvita next time I'm at the supermarket, to examine them and taste them for more ideas.

      Cheers, Robyn

    3. Good work Robyn! I admire your tenacity, I wouldn't have the patience! I wonder if there isn't some propitiatory process involved with the Ryvita crackers. Since there are only 2 ingredients it may be move a question of how rather than what. Perhaps there is some kind of fermentation going on? Please keep me posted if you come up with anything!

      Thanks, Robyn

  15. Hello Robyn, You may have seen this today on Susan's Wild Yeast round up, but just in case:

    We're not the only ones who struggle, and as suspected, one of the comments, though in translation-ese!, makes reference to what sounds like an extrusion process.

    Going to the city next week so plan to buy some Ryvita.